The Royal Pavilion Hotel ( although it hadn't actually been used as a hotel for some years) was situated right on the inner harbour and it was huge.

As new arrivals, we were given rooms in what was known as the old wing-probably because it was the tattiest and had no view worth speaking of, only the inside area of the building including a dilapidated, very large conservatory type building known as the winter garden.

We were soon moved to two rooms on the first floor at the front of the building and overlooking the inner harbour (Well mum's room did, but ours actually had a side view towards the old high street).

As it was an army hostel there were certain rules to be obeyed, and Mr Pollack, the warden was there to see that we obeyed them-no noisy games allowed inside the building.

Certain parts of the building were out of bounds. The winter garden because it was deemed structurally unsafe (we didn't flout that rule), the cellars under the dining room wing (I only explored them once and found them all white tiled and damp) and the attics, reached by wooden stairways at each end of the long second floor corridor were a wonderful world to explore on rainy days-and we were never caught.

Our other "rainy day" haven was a large empty room at the end of the dining room, and it was here that my friends and I used to perform our "concerts". My favourite song was "The Loveliest Night Of The Year".

Mum was approached by the adjutant (he was in overall charge of the hostel) and she became the womens' representative for any problems with accommodation or food.

Meals were provided in the dining room and were prepared by a staff of army cooks. ( I remember I liked the meals we got).

I cannot remember the names of my friends, but I had quite a few and anyway we all called ourselves by film stars' names. I had wanted to be Ann Blyth, Patricia Medina or Piper Laurie, but they had all been taken-so I ended up as Joan Rice (she played Maid Marian in Robin Hood, with Richard Todd). Mum had a friend called Audrey who had a little girl called Frances and another lady whose name I don't recall, but she had red hair and was in the hostel because her husband was a prisoner of war in Korea.

We started school straight away at Sir John Moore's school at Shorncliffe and my teacher  for most of the time spent there was a Miss Quinn. She made us work hard and it paid off because it was here that I passed the grammar school entrance exam (known as the 11 plus.)

We had to get the bus to school as it was about three miles away. There was a bus to Cheriton that stopped right outside the hostel, but then we usually just missed the bus to Shorncliffe and had to wait what seemed like ages for the next one. This led to experimenting with a new route to school which involved an early morning run up the road that led to the top of the Leas cliff and into Bouverie Square where we could catch the direct bus to school. That run up hill and then back down at teatime certainly kept me fit.

I remember two outings we had from school and I think they were both in coronation year. We were all taken by bus from school to the Odeon cinema to see the film "A Queen is Crowned" about a month after the coronation took place. I really enjoyed that, especially as, like many others, we didn't have access to a television in those days.

The other day out was by train ( I think it was a special one) to London zoo. I remember the journey well-hordes of kids screaming and shouting all the way to London. That was my first trip to London zoo-not sure that I liked to see the animals caged when I had been used to seeing them wandering free.
I only remember two children from my class at school. One was a girl called Christine and the other was Eddie Turner.

The two main routes leading up to the town were Tontine Street  and the Old High Street (fascinating steep narrow thoroughfare that wound its way up the hill).
Two shops I loved in this street were the rock shop ( you could, and still can, stand at the window and watch them rolling and kneading the lovely mass of sweet-smelling goo). The other one was the normal sweet shop at the bottom of the street where I used to go with my money and coupons on Saturdays (sweets were still on ration).
Rationing on sweets stopped while we were living in Folkestone but I can't remember if it was in 1952 or in 1953.

I discovered "Saturday morning pictures" while living here. Basically nearly every child in the neighbourhood descended on the Odeon at nine o'clock on Saturday morning and proceeded to scream, cheer or boo their way through the next two hours or so.
The programme invariably consisted of a cartoon or two, followed by something about wildlife or nature, then the serial( e.g Superman, Flash Gordon or Tarzan) and finally the main film which more often than not was a western.
It was sixpence to sit downstairs and ninepence to sit upstairs. Upstairs was best, especially in the front row, as you could aim all kind of missiles at the downstairs crowd. When the usherette came along complaining, you denied all knowledge of course.

To go  to the cinema on a rainy Saturday afternoon I had to earn one shilling and sixpence ( the price of the cheapest seat).
I did this by running errands for people, and then after lunch I would make my way to the cinema of my choice where I could feast my eyes on such jewels as "Son of Ali Baba". If the film had an "A" rating I would hang around outside until a likely- looking couple appeared and then ask them if I could walk in with them. Then while they went blithely to the back row I headed to the front row where all the looking up at the screen gave you a stiff neck.

I had ballet lessons at a school that was opposite a pond and I passed two exams whilst there. I loved ballet and one of the highlights of my stay in Folkestone was when mum took me to see a ballet at the local theatre-I loved every minute of it even though I cannot now remember which one it was.

An unusual event that I attended was the annual blessing of the fishing fleet. This took place alongside the outer harbour and was a church service complete with hymns.

I really missed Africa, but I didn't miss having to be careful where you trod because of the siafu ( safari ants). I taught the other girls at the hostel our Nairobi skipping chant---"Asante sana squashed banana. We we a pig and me me apana" - which , roughly translated means- "Thankyou very much squashed banana. You a pig and me no." Being back in England meant that we were allowed to go out more on our own, and there was  plenty of scope for exploration in the area in the neighbourhood.

The view from mum's room was across the harbour towards the east cliff. To get to the east cliff beach ( which was sandy, and my favourite swimming place) you crossed the road, walked under the harbour railway bridge and along past the fishing boats in the main harbour. You then came to this lovely beach with its own promenade at the base of the east cliff.
At the end of the walk there were steps leading up the cliff to the Martello tower. The area around the tower itself was actually cordoned off because they were still clearing the land mines that had been placed there during the war.
Beyond the east cliff was the Warren-another long beach that was nearly always deserted. This was reached by a path low down on the cliff (not like nowadays, when the top is open and the warren so much easier to access either that way or by following the shoreline). It was very narrow, with barbed wire on both sides and of course, the admonition not to stray because of the unexploded mines.

We used to stick very religiously to the path, having no desire to be blown up. Once you were down at the warren there was the beach and behind that, the huge white cliffs. We climbed these cliffs on several occasions, but I only remember reaching the top once and then walking back into Folkestone past the sugar loaf hill and along the Dover road.

We usually only climbed halfway up ( as far as the railway lines) and then proceeded to see who was the last person off the line when a train was coming. ( there were no barriers in those days and no electrification on that line). Incidentally, I was usually the first one to jump off the line. I was a chicken in those days.

Behind our home was the Leas cliff, which was reached either from the town, the road I used to run up every morning, various zigzag pathways or the cliff lift. (which was just behind the hostel).

My favourite ice-cream man stood just by the lifts. He was the only one who sold coffee- flavoured ice cream, which I was very fond of.

The Leas Cliff hall stood on top of the cliff. It was a theatre and restaurant etc built into the cliff. The roof was at street level and had an amazing view across to the harbour. On the roof was also a crazy golf course which I became quite expert at.

Princess Margaret visited the Leas Cliff Hall while we lived in Folkestone. I remember mum took us to see her and I couldn't understand why people only clapped and didn't cheer and wave flags. (What you have to remember is that my only other experience of another royal visit was of hundreds of Africans cheering the then Princess Elizabeth).

The other beach was West beach. It was shingle and much larger than the East beach. There was a promenade that ran right along it and you could walk to Sandgate and possibly further. ( Although I never went any further).

On this beach there was a funfair with all the usual rides and games. I had great fun there but spent the better part of fifteen months trying to get a blue hair slide out of one of those crane machines.(Never did get it). I became really good on the penny slot machines in the Rotunda though.

Next to the funfair was the theatre which also became an indoor roller skating rink in the winter months.

Each summer a show called "Dazzle" was performed  during the summer months. I used to love it and was a regular attendee. I can't remember much about it except that the compere was called Phil, there was a couple that sang and there were four girl dancers.

Every once in a while they had a session where members of the audience could go on stage and sing-no I didn't!

Dad came home from Suez at the end of the summer of 1953 and stayed in Folkestone for about a month until his new posting came through.

As I said before, I had passed the eleven plus and I then had to go and meet the headmistress of the Folkestone Girls Grammar School. That was quite harrowing and, as it turned out, unnecessary, as we were told that we were moving to Yorkshire to Catterick Camp.

So once again we had to say goodbye to friends and get ready to move up north

Sandra Evans

Memories of an army kid in Folkestone
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